Within intelligible speech in standardized English language, sentences embody the most basic expression of what we say and how we say it. Therefore, as editors and writers, it is imperative that we have a competitive understanding of sentences. There are many explanations for sentences. I developed this explanation for use when working with individuals on the editing of their writing.
What is a sentence?
What are the eight ways that sentences persuasively express ideas?
What is an independent clause?
An independent clause is a group of words that contains a subject and verb, that expresses a complete thought, and that can stand alone as a sentence.
What is a dependent clause?
A dependent clause is a group of words that may or may not contain a subject and verb. However, this grouping does not express a complete thought. A dependent clause cannot be a sentence. Often a dependent clause is marked by a dependent marker word (see below for a definition of "dependent marker word."
What are the main four kinds of sentences?
What are some untraditional sentences?
What are some common dependent marker words?
A dependent marker word is a word added to the beginning of a dependent clause that makes it an incomplete thought. Some common dependent markers are as follows:
What are some common independent marker words?
An independent marker word is a word added to the beginning of an independent clause. Some common independent marker words are as follows:
What are the two main ways that dependent and independent clauses are connected?
1. Coordinating conjunctions:
When the second independent clause in a sentence begins with a coordinating conjunction, a comma is needed before the coordinating conjunction:
"Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz, but it was hard to concentrate because of the noise."
In this example "but" is the coordinating conjunction.
2. Independent marker words:
An independent marker word is a connecting word used at the beginning of an independent clause.
These words begin sentences that can standalone.
When the second independent clause in a sentence has an independent marker word, a semicolon is needed before the independent marker word.
"Jim studied in the Sweet Shop for his chemistry quiz; however, it was hard to concentrate because of the noise."
In this example, "however" is the independent marker word.
What are some common issues to avoid in creating sentences as complete thoughts?
Comma splices or run-on sentences
A comma splice or a run-on sentence is the use of a comma between two independent clauses. You can usually address the issue by changing the comma to a period and therefore making the two clauses into two separate sentences, by changing the comma to a semicolon, or by making one clause dependent by inserting a dependent marker word in front of it.
ORIGINAL: I like this class, it is very interesting.
EDIT: I like this class. It is very interesting.
(or) I like this class; it is very interesting.
(or) I like this class, and it is very interesting.
(or) I like this class because it is very interesting.
(or) Because it is very interesting, I like this class.
Fused sentences happen when there are two independent clauses not separated by any form of punctuation. This issue is also known as a run-on sentence. The issue can sometimes be addressed by adding a period, semicolon, or colon to separate the two sentences.
ORIGINAL: My professor is intelligent I've learned a lot from her.
EDIT: My professor is intelligent. I've learned a lot from her.
(or) My professor is intelligent; I've learned a lot from her.
(or) My professor is intelligent, and I've learned a lot from her.
(or) My professor is intelligent; moreover, I've learned a lot from her.
Sentence fragments happen by treating a dependent clause or other incomplete thought as a complete sentence. You can usually address this issue by combining it with another sentence to make a complete thought or by removing the dependent marker.
ORIGINAL: Because I forgot the exam was today.
EDIT: Because I forgot the exam was today, I didn't study.
(or) I forgot the exam was today.
Can dependent clauses, or sentence fragments, stand on their own?
Yes! There are times when a sentence fragment (or a freestanding dependent clause) can stand on its own:
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